President William McKinley represented the status quo for most Americans at the turn of the century. By and large, they were comfortable with him in the White House. As the standard bearer of the Republican Party, he was an unassuming bulwark of conservatism. He stood for the gold standard, for protective tariffs, and of course for a strong national defense during the Spanish-American War. McKinley's personal attributes were affability and constancy, not dynamism and originality. Politically he was a follower and not a reformer, like Roosevelt. If the idea of having TR on the ticket as Vice President seemed at odds with the President's relaxed style, it was perfectly like Mckinley to go along with what the party and the people wanted. He never admitted to sharing the fears of his good friend and political advisor, Ohio Senator Marcus Hanna, who was also chairman of the national Republican committee. For Hanna, Roosevelt was too young, too inexperienced and too much of a maverick. He could not help but think: What if McKinley should die in office?|
President William McKinley (1843-1901)
platinum print, circa 1899
National Portrait Gallery,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
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